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"NASA" Reports may go public...

Frequency

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http://www.cnn.com/2007/TRAVEL/10/22/nasa.air.safety.ap/index.html

NASA mum on plane data that might scare you
  • NASA chief to reconsider how much of the findings can be made public
  • Official said revealing findings could damage public confidence in airlines
  • Survey's purpose was to develop a new way to track safety trends, problems
  • FAA is confident it can identify safety problems before they lead to accidents
MOFFETT FIELD, California (AP) -- An unprecedented national survey of pilots by the U.S. government has found that safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized. But the government is withholding the information, fearful it would upset air travelers and hurt airline profits.

A survey of pilots found that safety problems occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized.
NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million federal safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years. Since shutting down the project more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge its survey data publicly.
After The Associated Press disclosed details Monday about the survey and efforts to keep its results secret, NASA's chief said he will reconsider how much of the survey findings can be made public.
"NASA should focus on how we can provide information to the public, not on how we can withhold it," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a statement. He said the agency's research and data "should be widely available and subject to review and scrutiny."
Last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers. Congress intervened Monday, saying it will launch a formal investigation and instruct NASA to keep all its data. Griffin said he already was ordering that all survey data be preserved.
The AP learned about the NASA results from one person familiar with the survey who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss them.
A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said earlier that revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits. Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry."
The AP sought to obtain the survey data over 14 months under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
Don't Miss TSA trying new airline passenger screening machines "Release of the requested data, which are sensitive and safety-related, could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey," Luedtke wrote in a final denial letter to the AP. NASA also cited pilot confidentiality as a reason, although no airlines were identified in the survey, nor were the identities of pilots, all of whom were promised anonymity.
Griffin said NASA will reconsider its denial for the data to the AP.
Among other results, the pilots reported at least twice as many bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway incursions as other government monitoring systems show, according to a person familiar with the results who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The survey also revealed higher-than-expected numbers of pilots who experienced "in-close approach changes" -- potentially dangerous, last-minute instructions to alter landing plans.
Officials at the NASA Ames Research Center in California have said they want to publish their own report on the project by year's end.
Although to most people NASA is associated with spaceflight, the agency has a long and storied history of aviation safety research. Its experts study atmospheric science and airplane materials and design, among other areas.
"If the airlines aren't safe I want to know about it," said Rep. Brad Miller, D-North Carolina, chairman of the House Science and Technology investigations and oversight subcommittee. "I would rather not feel a false sense of security because they don't tell us."
Discussing NASA's decision not to release the survey data, Miller said: "There is a faint odor about it all."
Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tennessee, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, expected to announce a formal investigation Monday and will instruct NASA and its contractors not to destroy any data, aides said. Gordon said he was disturbed by the report NASA told its contractor to delete the survey data.
"I cannot imagine any good public purpose being served by destroying records," Gordon said in a statement. "The committee will get to the bottom of all of this."
The survey's purpose was to develop a new way of tracking safety trends and problems the airline industry could address. The project was shelved when NASA cut its budget as emphasis shifted to send astronauts to the moon and Mars.
NASA said nothing it discovered in the survey warranted notifying the Federal Aviation Administration immediately, and its data showed improvements in some areas. Survey managers occasionally briefed the FAA. At a briefing in April 2003, FAA officials expressed concerns about the high numbers of incidents described by pilots because NASA's results were dramatically different from the FAA's own monitoring systems showed.
An FAA spokeswoman, Laura Brown, said the agency questioned NASA's methodology. The FAA is confident it can identify safety problems before they lead to accidents, she said.
In its space program, NASA has a deadly history of playing down safety issues. Investigators blamed the 1986 and 2003 shuttle disasters on poor decision making, budget cuts and improperly minimizing risks. NASA decided to go ahead with a 2006 shuttle launch and is moving ahead with one this week despite safety concerns by NASA engineers in both cases.
Aviation experts said NASA's pilot survey results could be a valuable resource in an industry where they believe many safety problems are underreported, even while deaths from commercial air crashes are rare and the number of deadly crashes has dropped in recent years.
"It gives us an awareness of not just the extent of the problems, but probably in some cases that the problems are there at all," said William Waldock, a safety science professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. "If their intent is to just let it sit there, that's just a waste."
Officials involved in the survey touted the unusually high response rate among pilots, 80 percent, and said they believe it is more reliable than reporting systems that rely on pilots to report incidents voluntarily.
"The data is strong," said Robert Dodd, an aviation safety expert hired by NASA to manage the survey. "Our process was very meticulously designed and very thorough. It was very scientific."
Pilot interviews lasted about 30 minutes, with standardized questions about how frequently they encountered equipment problems, smoke or fire, engine failure, passenger disturbances, severe turbulence, collisions with birds or inadequate tower communication, according to documents obtained by the AP.
Pilots also were asked about last-minute changes in landing instructions, flying too close to other planes, near collisions with ground vehicles or buildings, overweight takeoffs or occasions when pilots left the cockpit.
"I don't believe it's in NASA's purpose and mission statement to protect the underlying financial fortunes of the airlines," David Stempler, president of the Potomac, Maryland-based Air Travelers Association, said Monday. "They're to provide safety information, and the consequences will fall where they may. We still believe this is an extremely safe air travel system, but it could be made even safer."
NASA's survey, known officially as the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service, started after a White House commission in 1997 proposed reducing fatal air crashes by 80 percent as of this year. Crashes have dropped 65 percent, with a rate of about 1 fatality in about 4.5 million departures.
NASA had begun to interview general aviation pilots and initially planned to interview flight attendants, air traffic controllers and mechanics before the survey was halted.
In earlier interviews that helped researchers design the NASA survey, pilots said airlines were unaware how frequently safety incidents occurred that could lead to serious problems or even crashes, said Jon Krosnick, a survey expert at Stanford University who helped NASA create the questionnaire. Krosnick also led a Stanford team that paid for a joint AP-Stanford poll on the environment.
"There are little things going on everyday that rarely lead to an accident but they increase the chances of an accident," said Krosnick. "It's the little things beneath the surface that cause the very infrequent crashes. You have to tackle those."
NASA had directed its contractor Battelle Memorial Institute, along with subcontractors, on Thursday to return any project information and then purge it from their computers before October 30. E-mail to a friend
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
All About NASA • Air Travel
 

HockleyPilot

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I wish FATIGUE was covered in that too......



An FAA spokeswoman, Laura Brown, said the agency questioned NASA's methodology. The FAA is confident it can identify safety problems before they lead to accidents, she said.

Yea Flippin' right.....
 

avbug

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If youré suggesting that NASA intends to release confidential information belonging to the ASRS program, you're off in left field. They're not even talking about that program, nor is there any discussion about releasing any of that information. There has never been a breach of confidence in that program. Not one.

The study to which your comments refer is something entirely different, and would have been public information in the first place. It's statistical data that NASA is concerned about; data which might be detrimental to public confidence.

Don't get too excited. The biggest issue here is a lot of money was spent on a study which may get buried.
 

temcgrew

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If youré suggesting that NASA intends to release confidential information belonging to the ASRS program, you're off in left field. They're not even talking about that program, nor is there any discussion about releasing any of that information. There has never been a breach of confidence in that program. Not one.

The study to which your comments refer is something entirely different, and would have been public information in the first place. It's statistical data that NASA is concerned about; data which might be detrimental to public confidence.

Don't get too excited. The biggest issue here is a lot of money was spent on a study which may get buried.

Rep. Brad Miller is leading the charge on this with a dramatic "unsafe airline" story on Fox News. One of the reporters who is afraid to fly already said that because of this, she will never fly again.

The issue it seems is that a no-name congressman is trying to make a name for himself by scaring the flying public.
 
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Mach84

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>>>>One of the reporters who is afraid to fly already said that because of this, she will never fly again. <<<

Yet she hops in a car where 40,000 people a year die and 200,000 a year get some sort of permanent disability. If airlines had anything close to this performance, they would all be grounded yet so little is ever said about how truly unsafe the roads are.
 

SWA GUY

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I guess I'll have to change my standard report of, "I f@cking screwed the pooch again, sorry!!!"
 

SWA GUY

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>>>>One of the reporters who is afraid to fly already said that because of this, she will never fly again. <<<

Yet she hops in a car where 40,000 people a year die and 200,000 a year get some sort of permanent disability. If airlines had anything close to this performance, they would all be grounded yet so little is ever said about how truly unsafe the roads are.

Or, more to the point, how unsafe DRIVERS are.
 

BoilerUP

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This isn't ASRS information...its information from a SAFETY SURVEY.

That you and I paid for with our taxes.

Bet your ass I want that data put out to the public. Will it scare some people? Yeah - and it probably should - but it won't cause a measurable drop in bookings and/or profit.
 

dash8driver

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If youré suggesting that NASA intends to release confidential information belonging to the ASRS program, you're off in left field. They're not even talking about that program, nor is there any discussion about releasing any of that information. There has never been a breach of confidence in that program. Not one.

The study to which your comments refer is something entirely different, and would have been public information in the first place. It's statistical data that NASA is concerned about; data which might be detrimental to public confidence.

Don't get too excited. The biggest issue here is a lot of money was spent on a study which may get buried.

i dont see where anyone is saying or suggesting this is ASRS info yet two people seem to need to straighten the OP out. maybe i'm missing something, could someone please show me where its being suggested this is ASRS info?
 
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Personally I really do not care if those reports are published.

I am sure a percentage of stupid mistakes were due to the pilots thinking about how they were going to pay their bills, supporting kids, alimony, foreclosures, lost pensions and paycuts instead of paying attention on flying the plane. Thanks to the folks that have let this happen. I am sure we all know who they are.
 

BOOZENEWS

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Thanks to the folks that have let this happen. I am sure we all know who they are.


That was ALPA, right? Its amazing how every pilot group just folded like a cheap lawn chair when mgmt tried to play them and succeeded.

It was so obvious at the time that they were bluffing to the extreme. Wise up everybody!!

There is no way in hell I would have fallen for all they're BS for one second. If I were one of the union leaders I would have exposed them and gone to they're personal residents and organized a massive demonstration, outside they're door, to show how dishonest they were.

It is amazing the weakness that just about every union showed in standing up to them. Past generations of proud pilots are weeping in they're graves at the lack of fortitude these spineless so called unions showed.

So sad
 
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AWACoff

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That was ALPA, right? Its amazing how every pilot group just folded like a cheap lawn chair when mgmt tried to play them and succeeded.

It was so obvious at the time that they were bluffing to the extreme. Wise up everybody!!

There is no way in hell I would have fallen for all they're BS for one second. If I were one of the union leaders I would have exposed them and gone to they're personal residents and organized a massive demonstration, outside they're door, to show how dishonest they were.

It is amazing the weakness that just about every union showed in standing up to them. Past generations of proud pilots are weeping in they're graves at the lack of fortitude these spineless so called unions showed.

So sad

Thank you for your rambling, incoherent diatribe. Put the bottle down and step away from your computer.
 

Axel

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...The AP learned about the NASA results from one person familiar with the survey who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss them...
I just despise these sneaky little rat-weasel cowards who slither off to the media with their little burning secrets and their "conditions of anonymity."
 

avbug

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Just announced:

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] Under Pressure, NASA Will Release Pilot Safety Survey[/FONT][FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
Relenting to mounting public and congressional pressure, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin reversed course and announced yesterday that his agency would indeed release the results from the National Aviation Operations Monitoring Service (NAOMS) project, an $11.3 million aviation safety survey. The NAOMS project began in 1998 to facilitate a data-driven approach to aviation system safety analysis, and actual data was collected between April 2001 and December 2004. During that time, the project team surveyed some 24,000 airline pilots and about 5,000 general aviation pilots, according to Griffin&#146;s testimony yesterday before the House Committee on Science and Technology. NASA earlier refused to release the data because it might &#147;affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies.&#148; Addressing this, Griffin told lawmakers, &#147;I regret any impression that NASA was in any way trying to put commercial interests ahead of public safety. That was not and never will be the case.&#148; NASA plans to release a final report based on the study by year-end.
[/FONT]

As for the poster who questioned corrections to the concept that ASRS reports are being released; in common pilot vernacular, "NASA Reports" is the terminology most often applied to the ASRS program. The original poster stated that NASA Reports May Go Public, suggesting by inference that the ASRS program may be in danger of a breach of confidence...something that has never occured.

i dont see where anyone is saying or suggesting this is ASRS info yet two people seem to need to straighten the OP out. maybe i'm missing something, could someone please show me where its being suggested this is ASRS info?

How unfortunate that you find clarification offensive.
 

dash8driver

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Just announced:



As for the poster who questioned corrections to the concept that ASRS reports are being released; in common pilot vernacular, "NASA Reports" is the terminology most often applied to the ASRS program. The original poster stated that NASA Reports May Go Public, suggesting by inference that the ASRS program may be in danger of a breach of confidence...something that has never occured.

ok, i can see where you got confused and made a mistake... you tried to correct someone without actually reading the post first. either that or you think that he was too stupid to read and comprehend the article and you're the only one smart enough to do so.

you see, if you read the article (which is the original post), you'll see its pretty clear that its NOT the ASRS program. there were no suggestions by inference.. only assumptions made.


How unfortunate that you find clarification offensive.

ha! you call that clarification? more like beating a path to state the obvious.
 

IronCityBlue

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If the results of this safety survey are released, that will mean that much more sophmoric questions we'll have to field from passengers every single freaking day.
 
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